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great a stress upon faith, that they neglect. morality ; and many who build so much upoñi morality, that they do not pay a due regard to faith. The perfect man should be defective in neither of these particulars, as will be very evident to those who consider the benefits which arise from each of them, and which I shall make the subject of this day's paper.
Notwithstanding this general division of Christian duty into morality and faith, and that they have both their peculiar excellencies, the first has the preeminence in several respects.
First, Because the greatest part of morality (as I have stated the notion of it) is of a fixt eternal nature, and will endure when faith shall fail, and be loft in convi&tion.
Secondly, Because a perfon may be qualified to do greater good to mankind, and become more beneficial to the world, by morality, without faith, than by faith without morality.
Thirdly, because morality gives a greater perfection to human nature, by quieting the mind, moderating the passions, and advancing the happiness of every man in his private capacity.
Fourtbly, Because the rule of morality is much more certain than that of faich, all the civilized nations of the world agreeing in the great points of morality, as much as they differ in those of faith.
Fiftbly, Because infidelity is not of fo malignant a nature as immorality;
put the same reason in another light, because it is generally owned, there may be salvation for a virtuous Infidel, (particularly in the case of invincible ignorance) but none for a vicious Believer.
Sixtbly, Because faith seems to draw its principal, if not all its excellency, from the influence it has upon morality; as we shall see more at large, if we consider wherein consists the excellency of faith, or the belief of revealed religion ; and this I think is,
First, In explaining and carrying to greater heights, feveral points of marality.
Secondly, In furnishing new and stronger motives to inforce the practice of morality.
Thirdly, in giving us more amiable ideas of the Supreme Being, more en
dearing notions of one another, and a true state of ourselves both in regard to the grandeur and vileness of our na
Fourthly, By shewing us the blackness 221 and deformity of vice, which in the Christian system is so very great, that he who is poffeffed of all perfection and the Sovereign Judge of it, is represented by several of our Divines as hating sin to the same degree that he loves the Sacred Person who was made the propitiation of it.
Fifthly, In being the ordinary and prefcribed method of making morality effectual to salvation.
I have only touched on these several heads, which every one who is converfant in discourses of this nature will ea. fily enlarge upon in his own thoughts, and draw conclusions from them which may
be useful to him in the conduct of his life. One I am sure is so obvious, that he cannot miss it, namely, that a man cannot be perfect in his scheme of morality, who does not strengthen and support it with that of the Christian faith.
Besides this, I shall lay down two or three other maxims which I think we may deduce from what has been said.
First, That we should be particularly cautious of making any thing an article of faith, which does not contribute to the confirmation or improvement of morality.
Secondly, That no article of faith can be true and authentie, which weakens or subverts the practical part of religion, or what I have hitherto called mora lity.
Thirdly, That the greateft friend of morality, or natural religion, cannot poffibly apprehend any danger from embracing Christianity, as it is preserved pure and uncorrupt in the doctrines of our national Church.
There is likewife another maxim which I think may be drawn from the foregoing considerations, which is this, that we should, in all dubious points, confider any ill consequences that may arise from them, fupposing they should be erroneous, before we give up our affent to them.
For example, in that difputable point of persecuting men for conscience fake, besides the imbittering their minds with hatred, indignation, and all the vehemence of resentment, and infnaring them to profess what they do not believe ; we cut them off from the pleasures and advantages of society, amict their bodies, distress their fortunes, hurt their reputations, ruin their families, make their lives painful or put an end to them. Sure when I see such dreadful consequences rising from a principle, I would be as fully convinced of the truth of it, as of á mathemetical demonstration, before I would venture to act upon it, or make it a part of my religion.
In this case the injury done our neighbour is plain and evident, the principle that puts us upon doing it, of a dubious and disputable nature. Morality seems highly violated by the one, and whether or no a zeal for what a man thinks the true system of faith may justify it, is very uncertain. I cannot but think, if our religion produce charity as well as zeal, it will not be for shewing itself by such cruel instances. But, to conclude with the words of an excellent author, We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.